Christianity and Religion in ChinaBeijing, Fall 2010 - Language Intensive

The other day I went on a field trip with my Sociology class to a Christian Church in Beijing and sat through a service. We observed the priests and the people in the audience and how the service was carried out, noting similarities and differences between this service and an average service in America. People from all walks of life attended the service. I could tell by the way they dressed whether they were wealthy or poor. I don’t have a lot of personal experience with Christianity, but one thing I noticed about the service was that not only was their a priest speaking, but there was another man with a microphone who walked among the aisles of the pews who took turns speaking with the priest. He was very energetic and had an announcer-like quality to him that seemed to add a commercial quality to the service. At times I felt more like I came to a show than to a service. But other than the microphone man, things carried out like a normal service. We sang and listened to religious stories and went up for communion. Donations were given. The majority of Chinese people are atheist. Most of the religious population in China is made up of minorities. In China communism is supposed to be your only belief so there is no room for religion. In fact, members of the Communist Party are not allowed to participate in religious practices or have any religious association. Some of the older generations believe that religion has no science and therefore is not real. That is why they only trust in the government. It is mostly the younger generations that are more open with religion and experimenting with their beliefs. We learned in class that Christianity is one of the fastest growing religions in China. The religion has actually been present in China for hundreds of years, but only recently has it been growing at such a rapid rate. I find this interesting because Christianity seems to disagree with a lot of traditional Chinese customs and beliefs. For one, Christianity says that everyone is born into sin, but an old Confucious saying says that people are all born good. With these kinds of conflicting ideas I wonder how the Chinese people justify their beliefs.
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